March 8, 2014 Subject:
Nero Wolfe is timeless
Whether you call them mysteries or detective stories, Rex Stout created a literary character that is timeless, and wrote some magnificent novels and short stories for his character Nero Wolfe. I think that Sidney Greenstreet makes the character come alive in the radio plays. I disagree with Samskara in that I think Maury Chayken did a fine job in portraying Nero Wolfe, and the entire A&E Nero Wolfe series was a superior production. the attention to detail was fantastic when you compare the series to the books. You should also check out the Nero Wolfe 13 episode CBC series from 1982. not quite as good as the 1950s series, but I enjoyed it. but then I enjoy all things Nero Wolfe
April 20, 2010 Subject:
The needless slam at Rex Stout by the previous reviewer should be addressed. Whether or not Mr. Stout could "create great mysteries" is really irrelevant. Since he wasn't writing mysteries. He was writing "Detective Stories" which is a slightly different genre where the emphasis is on the personality and the idiosyncracies of the detective (usually but not always a Private one) rather than on the mystery itself. Nevertheless, SOME BURIED CAESAR, THE DOORBELL RANG, PLOT IT YOURSELF, and THE BLACK MOUNTAIN stand out as darned good examples of BOTH.
As for radio, both Francis X. Bushman and Sydney Greenstreet are credible in the role. I agree with the evaluation of Mr. Conrad's television version but he could only play the character as it was written for him by the script writers on that series. The only really admirable Nero Wolfe ever given us on the small screen was the one portrayed by Thayer David in the 1979 TV movie NERO WOLFE which co-starred Tom Mason as an excellent Archie Goodwin and was based on (and stayed TRUE to) THE DOORBELL RANG. Unfortunately Thayer David passed away before the show even made it on-air or we might have had a much better series on television--something like the quality Granada TV gave us with Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes.
Yes, Kim..Sydney Greenstreet was in THE MALTESE FALCON (1941) the third version filmed. He was also in CASABLANCA (1942) THE HUCKSTERS (1947) with Clark Gable and the 1948 film version of Wilkie Collins' classic novel of suspense THE WOMAN IN WHITE. He died in 1954. Although, being rather more courteous than Captain Marvel (Tom Tyler) he died in January...rather than on my birthday.
February 22, 2008 Subject:
archie the unsung hero
Quality radio at its best.
Could nero be the fat guy from the Maltise Falcon I wonder. No matter it"s Archie that makes the show.
He's Watson to Sherlock Holmes unsung but He carries the show. this program is with out a doubt worth your time. Ellery Queen does'nt hold up compared to nero wolf.
I remember a t.v. show back in the seventies called Nero Wolf do you?
Long story short take a risk and tlisten to nero he'll mske your day
December 24, 2007 Subject:
Radio drama didn't leave much room for complexity. The most importasnt thing was to create the character, then set up the story. The mystery was usually resolved with a single clue that might have been no more than a Freudian slip. The more complex the character, the less time there was to devote to any other aspect of the story.
Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe was a remarkably detailed character in his own right, a beer drinking, overweight, chair bound genious who cultivated orchids and enjoyed the finest gourmet food (he had his own cook, Fritz, as well as Theodore Horstman, who worked in the plant rooms.) Wolfe supported his lifestyle by working as a private detective -- assisted by Archie Goodwin who had his own set of eccentricities. That's a lot to compress into a script that ran for 24 minutes, and inevitably the stories were rather superficial. To be sure, that wasn't a major drawback since Rex Stout wasb't very good at developing real mysteries -- he was a stort teller of considerable ability more than a mystery writer.
While television has the edge in portrayal of Wolfe, William Conrad was too cheerful and Maury Chayken on the A&E series, although he looked the part, spent all his time yelling and never developed the character. In contrast, Sidney Greenstreet, with voice alone, manages to create a meaningful Nero Wolfe. It takes an episode or two to forget Mr. Greenstreet's part in The Maltese Falcon, but after that, he embodies Nero Wolfe. If there's no time left for a story -- sometimes it doesn't seem to matter.